14 Nov NEXUS graffiti art project transforms Moree
Three Moree parks have been transformed by Australia’s finest graffiti artists in a project celebrating the sense of pride and place of local Aboriginal communities.
The artists – Vans the Omega (Adelaide), John Kaye (Gold Coast) and Emmanuel Moore (Brisbane) – visited Moree for six days recently to participate in the NEXUS graffiti project produced in partnership with New Zealand based street art organisation Oi YOU!
The artworks cover more than 700 square metres of walls and paths. The communities surrounding the parks came up with visual ideas that reflect their lives and where they live. They also helped to paint the artworks.
At Arunga Park, in the south of the town, two long cyclone fences and footpaths were painted in partnership with local artists Welshy and Mehi Beale.
For Welshy it was inspiring to work with graffiti artists he had long admired.
“I’m glad they took the time out to do it with us,” he said. “It is representing our community, it’s doing us justice through graffiti, it’s on the wall for life, it’s amazing.”
Graffiti art tends to stay untouched on the wall out of respect to the artists. According to Welshy, that’s “because it says and represents something that is meaningful to us. We’ve got a young fella that passed away on the wall, that means a lot. There is an Aboriginal flag, so it has things that are near and dear to our hearts.”
Cooee Park and Sullivan’s Place were also painted, along with the wall of the historic Killick’s butcher shop which has been empty for 20 years. On the shop wall Kaye and Moore painted a surrealist image conceived from conversations with the local community.
Owner of Killick’s General Store, architect Tony Beattie, gave permission to paint the wall. He regards the initiative as part of a plan to revitalise this precinct in Moree. “I see this artwork is a fabulous start towards renewal,” he said. “I left the interpretation to the artists and I’m very pleased with the finished piece. I hope the community like it.”
For Vans the Omega, who painted more than 50 metres of paths in Arunga Park in bright colours, his visit to Moree was revealing.
“The idea that I had of Moree before I came here is totally at odds with what it’s like,” he said. “It’s obvious that the areas we’re working in are tough, but the warm reception from the locals and fascination for what we’re doing, is way beyond anything I have experienced anywhere before.”
Beyond Empathy engaged George Shaw from the NZ company Oi YOU! to produce the artworks “We’ve produced three massive street art shows in Christchurch since the earthquakes and have seen first-hand the amazing impact this art form has on communities,” Shaw said. “But we’ve never experienced anything like this before. In Christchurch the artwork had a totally transformative effect, but the kids here are something else. They’re desperate to get involved and get creative. What’s impressive is that it comes easily to them – there’s an abundance of naturally talented people here.”
Working in Moree, Shaw says, “when school’s over, the parks filled up with kids who got totalled engaged. They wanted to help out, know how things work and pick up a brush or spray can and give it a go themselves.”
Beyond Empathy’s NEXUS project is funded through the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Social Housing Community Improvement Fund, private philanthropy and Ironlak. In the second stage of the project, over the next six months, graffiti artworks will be painted in two other residential areas.
The public are welcome to view the artworks at Arunga Park, Killick’s General Store, Cooee Park and Sullivan Place.
Photographs: Luke Shirlaw & Raphaela Rosella